Bushmills venue for stockjudging event

Looking forward to next week's Holstein NI stockjudging event are, from left: club secretary John Martin, with hosts Iain, Matthew and Ellie McLean, Priestland Herd, Bushmills.
Looking forward to next week's Holstein NI stockjudging event are, from left: club secretary John Martin, with hosts Iain, Matthew and Ellie McLean, Priestland Herd, Bushmills.

All roads will lead to Bushmills on Wednesday 1st August for Holstein NI’s stockjudging competition.

Hosted by the McLean family’s noted Priestland Herd, the event will also include the presentation of awards for Holstein NI’s Ulster Bank Herds Inspection Competition.

Club secretary John Martin said: “Judging of the junior, senior and premier herd categories was completed in mid-June, and the long awaited results will be unveiled at our stockjudging competition which commences at 11.30am. I’d like to thank the McLean family for hosting the event, and I know that many Holstein enthusiasts are eager for an opportunity to view the highly acclaimed Priestland Herd.”

Owned by Iain and Joyce McLean, and family – John, Matthew and Ellie, the Priestland Herd comprises of 110 pedigree Holstein cows, which are managed alongside 20 pedigree coloured breeds, and more than 200 youngstock.

Priestland Farm has been in the McLean family since 1911 when Iain’s grandfather operated a mixed holding. “I began upgrading and using Holstein genetics in the 1990s. Prior to that the herd was mainly British Friesian,” explained Iain who has made a significant impact in the Holstein showring over the last nine years.

“Ullswater Roybrook was the first Holstein bull we used, and he produced very impressive daughters with great yields. My passion for Holstein breeding grew from there.”

The herd’s rolling 12 month average is 10,079 litres at 4.30% butterfat and 3.19% protein. Milk is sold to LacPatrick Dairies.

Cows calve all year round, and more than 75% of the herd is classified EX or VG.

Most of the breeding decisions are made by Iain, and eldest son John. Both are focused on type, rather than figures. “We like to select powerful bulls with good overall balance. We look at individual cows and select a sire that will compliment her strengths, and hopefully improve her weaknesses.

“We like to milk tall, strong cows. Sound feet and legs, and a good udder, are important too,” added Iain. The McLean’s usually opt for US and Canadian sires, and have been using ET to further develop some strong cow families within the herd.

Cow families at Priestland include Bedazzle/Barbie, Ambrosia, James Rose, Debutante Rae, Dellia, Frosty, Lila Z, Spendor Dream, Paradise and Faith.

“Ambrosia has done well for us, but without doubt James Rose is the most successful family we have. There are 14 James Rose descendants on the ground, and there are another eight heifers due.”

The Priestland Herd made its showring debut in 2009. “Showing is time consuming, but it very rewarding,” added Iain.

The family has enjoyed numerous successes with home-bred cows.

The McLean family are currently working with the BBC and filming for the popular TV series ‘This Farming Life’. They are one of six families being filmed for the BBC2 series.

The farm is situated at 76 Priestland Road, Bushmills, Co Antrim, BT57 8UP. Holstein NI signage will be erected on all major approach roads in the area.